The League

Michael Wilbon
Columnist

Michael Wilbon

Washington Post sports reporter and ESPN personality

Tough Landing Spot

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There will be nothing gradual or below-the-radar about Michael Vick's return to professional football. There's no tougher place to play than in Philadelphia. Vick will play before the harshest critics, on a team some folks were already picking to reach the Super Bowl, in a division that is probably the most difficult in the NFL, operating week after week under the hottest media spotlight. There'll be no patience, no cushion, no grading on the curve.

Whenever the NFL allows Vick to return to regular season play, whether it's Week 7 against the Redskins or sooner, he'll bring one complex and emotionally charged story line to a city that welcomes controversy, a head coach who has total disdain for even the most benign distraction from routine, and a quarterback who usually through no fault of his own continually winds up in football's juiciest dramas.

The man who pulled the trigger on all this is Jeffrey Lurie, a strong owner by any measure, and a former Hollywood producer who has a master's degree in psychology from Boston University. He may need to call on all those academic and professional lessons to successfully choreograph this production. Lurie surely is tired of coming close and not winning the Super Bowl; his Eagles have been to the NFC championship game five times during the Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb era but have yet to win the Super Bowl. And Lurie must see Vick as a player, however tainted, who can help the Eagles win it all.

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By Michael Wilbon  |  August 14, 2009; 12:24 AM ET  | Category:  Atlanta Falcons , Fans , Michael Vick , NFL , Philadelphia Eagles , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Perfect place. Remember, Iverson, a convicted felon granted clemency by Governor Wilder, thrived there. They don't care what you do in your free time in Philly so long as you win ballgames. The fans notoriously booed Santa Claus, but they would have cheered St. Nick had he thrown a pinpoint fifty yard pass. They have a sold out stadium and a healthy waiting list, a racially tolerant city, and if PETA tries to picket, the fans will just shove the protestors out of their way. They may boo Vick, but they'll boo him for doing badly, not for puppy hate.

Posted by: ggreenbaum | August 14, 2009 9:29 AM

As a Redskins fan, I have looked forward to the NFC East slugfests for decades. the Snyder/free agency era has diminished a fair amount of that joy but I still looked forward to these games with great anticipation. But enough is enough. This thing has pushed me over the top. We, as a society, look the other way too easily when it comes to situations like this. I know that I will never be able to watch another NFL game - much less Redskins/Philly - without a sense of disgust. Goodbye NFL. over & out.

Posted by: don20 | August 14, 2009 10:35 AM

Yes, agreed, Greenbaum-Philly fans will only boo Vick if he doesn't perform well-that's all that counts-and he will initially get great love from the fan base there-let the boycotters boycott all they want-that will only mean more tickets for Philly fans!

Posted by: arrabbiato | August 14, 2009 12:39 PM

my earlier post was just a general statement but I decided to weigh in on the other two posts, here. I agree with your assessments that people who boycott or picket will probably have little affect. I may be wrong but I think the picketers will likely only end up serving as fodder for the media. but the minute I heard that Vick signed with the Eagles, in my mind's eye I immediately saw him standing on a football field in an Eagles uniform and then the vision of him torturing dogs - hanging them by the neck - jumper cables - drowning in the swimming pool - pets served up as sacrifices - ran through my head. I don't know, man. this is tough to get around. as a longtime Redskin fan and survivor of 'the Vet' on more than one occasion, I think I'll just have to let someone else have my seat. they're welcome to it. fortunately we all have choices...

Posted by: don20 | August 14, 2009 2:44 PM

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